Genetic Differences in Dorsal Hippocampus Acetylcholinesterase Activity Predict Contextual Fear Learning Across Inbred Mouse Strains

Sean M. Mooney-Leber, Dana Zeid, Prescilla Garcia-Trevizo, Laurel R. Seemiller, Molly A. Bogue, Stephen C. Grubb, Gary Peltz, Thomas J. Gould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning is a critical behavioral process that is influenced by many neurobiological systems. We and others have reported that acetylcholinergic signaling plays a vital role in learning capabilities, and it is especially important for contextual fear learning. Since cholinergic signaling is affected by genetic background, we examined the genetic relationship between activity levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), the primary enzyme involved in the acetylcholine metabolism, and learning using a panel of 20 inbred mouse strains. We measured conditioned fear behavior and AChE activity in the dorsal hippocampus, ventral hippocampus, and cerebellum. Acetylcholinesterase activity varied among inbred mouse strains in all three brain regions, and there were significant inter-strain differences in contextual and cued fear conditioning. There was an inverse correlation between fear conditioning outcomes and AChE levels in the dorsal hippocampus. In contrast, the ventral hippocampus and cerebellum AChE levels were not correlated with fear conditioning outcomes. These findings strengthen the link between acetylcholine activity in the dorsal hippocampus and learning, and they also support the premise that the dorsal hippocampus and ventral hippocampus are functionally discrete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number737897
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
StatePublished - Oct 18 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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